No. 11 Canyons women’s volleyball sweeps Mt. SAC

Members of the College of the Canyons women’s volleyball team, pictured here during last week’s match vs. Long Beach City College, have reason to celebrate after going from unranked to the No. 9 position in the most recent California Community College Women’s Volleyball Coaches Association (CCCWVCA) Top-25 poll after knocking off a pair of top-five opponents. Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information.

Winning six consecutive matches since its last loss almost a month ago, the No. 11-ranked College of the Canyons women’s volleyball team hosted Mt. San Antonio College at College of the Canyons on Wednesday.

After falling to Mt. SAC earlier this season, Canyons swept the Mounties on Wednesday: 26-24, 25-20, 25-22.

“One of our goals that we have been working on lately is to play together and communicate,” said Canyons setter Kassidy Fitzpatrick. “So it was really exciting to come out tonight and beat them in three because we lost to them in five last time. There’s always room for improvement, but overall I think that we played well tonight.”

Beginning the match with an ace by outside-hitter Georgia Sherman, the Cougars (13-5 overall, 2-0 in Western State Athletic Conference-South Division) were on their way to the win, or so they thought.

Mt. SAC (6-11, 0-2) came right back, scoring seven out of the next 10 points, forcing Canyons head coach Clay Timmons to call a timeout and allow his team to regroup.

Down for the majority of the first set, middle blocker Grace Ferguson sparked the Cougars offense scoring two straight points after a kill and a crucial block, bringing the Cougars within four points at 20-16.

Ferguson’s scoring didn’t stop there.

With ball in hand, Ferguson served six consecutive times for Canyons, winning each point, three of which came by aces.

“I try to find my motivation from my teammates,” Ferguson said. “Being there for them and just doing my part in the game and trying to make it enjoyable for everyone. Everything I do, I do for my team.”

Ferguson finished the day first on the team with nine kills and seven aces.

Powering through and overcoming the deficit, Canyons took the first set in dramatic fashion 26-24.

“We fought back and then went on a crazy run, I was really proud of that,” Timmons said. “That was something that we haven’t done because we haven’t been down that much in a set yet and we came back to win it especially against a Mt. SAC team that came in here to play.”

The second set was a back and forth affair as both teams tried to pull away from the other, but just couldn’t capitalize on key opportunities.

Tied at 13-13, the Mounties and Cougars traded points with neither team wanting to go down more than a point.

Down 18-16, Mt. SAC head coach Ali Carey-Oliver called a timeout to try and slow down the Cougars scoring. The strategy worked as the Mounties scored the next point to bring them within a point of Canyons, but outside hitters Shayla Johnson and Madison Martinez had different plans.

The duo was able to score the next four points, giving Canyons a five-point advantage, one that they would not squander. Canyons took the second set 25-20 after a huge block by middle blocker Ricki Patenaude and the game-winning kill by Johnson.

The third set was played very close with neither team giving up more than three consecutive points.

Going back and forth, the Mounties called a timeout down 20-18. After the break, they were able to narrow the margin at 22-21 forcing Timmons to call a final timeout.

Canyons rattled off three of the next four points with Ferguson sealing the sweep of Mt. Sac with a kill.

Rachel Caruthers finished the game second on the team with eight kills while Johnson and Toni Bito chipped in with seven kills each. Elizabeth Gannon led the team with 14 digs.

Fitzpatrick and Sydney Higginson finished with 13 and 14 assists, respectively.

Canyons hosts LA Mission at 6 p.m. on Friday at Canyons.

“We don’t expect to have a great night all the time, everybody is going to have a down night, but we can still contribute with great body language and communication,” Timmons said. “We are going to work on a lot to team-building stuff where they have to communicate and trust each other and be good teammates.”

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